The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Loan Program Office (LPO) updated its 2015 report Powering New Markets: Utility Scale Photovoltaic Solar with new figures showing that its initial $4.6 billion in loans for five solar projects 100 megawatts or larger in 2011 led to 45 additional privately financed utility-scale PV projects. These recent results show that President Obama’s commitment to renewable energy development through the Recovery and Reinvestment Act has experienced overwhelming success and helped create a privately financed solar industry.
Prior to 2010, the majority of investments in solar were in small residential and commercial systems. Giant, utility-scale solar installations did not exist due to developers’ inability to secure the private financing to construct large-scale projects. According to the White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA), government investment and loan financing of utility-scale solar installations jumpstarted a privately financed energy market and has helped lead to a drop in solar power costs of 60 percent.
“When the Obama administration began, there were zero large-scale solar PV projects in the United States. Our Loan Programs Office committed funding for the first five, and today we can say 45 more have been built with private financing, opening a clean energy market that did not exist before," said Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.
LPO’s news comes as Mesquite Solar 3, a privately financed, 150-megawatt solar project in Maricopa County, AZ was commissioned. The project will provide energy to 14 Navy facilities in southern California. It was preceded by the 170-megawatt Mesquite Solar 1 project which is one of the five large-scale PV solar projects that was financed by LPO.
"Mesquite Solar 1 and 3 exemplify how the Energy Department provides crucial early financing and technical support to demonstrate cutting-edge projects at commercial scale to support new markets, work with lenders, and provide confidence to investors so the Department can then step aside to let industry take over. We’re excited for the ongoing opportunity to help more innovative technologies overcome hurdles to commercial maturity,” said Moniz.Tweet